Oglala Lakota Artspace to Grow the Creative Economy on Pine Ridge

The Kyle, South Dakota-based Oglala Lakota Artspace, a $2.75 million project, is scheduled for completion near the end of 2019 and will be located in close proximity to the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, the Lakota Prairie Ranch Resort, Oglala Lakota College, and Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation. (Photo courtesy Lakota Funds)

On Thursday, September 27, the Oglala Lakota Artspace LLC — comprised of Artspace, First Peoples Fund, and Lakota Funds — will break ground on the first-ever arts center on the geographically vast Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The arts facility is designed to provide local Native artists with increased access to essential resources needed for their work. When complete, the mixed-use arts center will give Native artists access to capacity building programs, training in arts business practices, and opportunities to collaborate.

The three organizations behind Oglala Lakota Artspace LLC include:

  • Artspace Projects is a leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts. Artspace’s mission is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations.
  • Since 1995, First Peoples Fund has guided, supported and worked alongside nearly 2,000 Native artists to help them develop their artistry into a self-sustaining way of life through grants, entrepreneurial support and professional development workshops throughout the U.S. (Read Native Business Magazine’s article “10 Tips for Indigenous Artists to Succeed.”)
  • Lakota Funds plays a vital role in improving life for Oglala Lakota people by placing capital with new and growing businesses on the Pine Ridge Reservation. (Lakota Funds is the not-for-profit organizational sponsor of the Lakota Federal Credit Union (LFCU), which Native Business Magazine featured here: “Lakota Federal Credit Union: Empowering Economic Independence.”)

The Oglala Lakota Artspace will expand on services provided by the Rolling Rez Arts mobile arts and financial literacy vehicle (also created by the Oglala Lakota Artspace LLC) and First Peoples Fund’s Dances With Words program, a spoken word and literacy program for Native youth.

 

The facility is designed by Architect Tammy Eagle Bull (Oglala Lakota) of Encompass Architects, who has incorporated Lakota star knowledge into its design. The Oglala Lakota Artspace will feature individual artist studio space; a storefront for the Lakota Federal Credit Union; shared workspace for performances or collaborations; a recording and sound studio; a Native art gallery and gift shop, including a place to buy art supplies; and a garage for the Rolling Rez Arts bus.

The September 27th groundbreaking ceremony will include an opening prayer, remarks, an exhibit of artist-designed shovels, art classes, and a lunch. Speakers will include:

  • First Peoples Fund President & CEO, Lori Pourier
  • Artspace President & CEO, Kelley Lindquist
  • Lakota Funds Executive Director, Tawney Brunsch
  • Oglala Lakota Tribe President, Scott Weston
  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs, Dennis Alvord
  • Lakota Funds Board Chairperson, Elsie Meeks
  • Local Native artists
  • Spoken word youth poets from First Peoples Fund’s Dances With Words program

The creation of the Rolling Rez Arts and Oglala Lakota Artspace arts center both respond to the 2011-13 “Establishing a Creative Economy: Arts as an Economic Engine in Native Communities,” released by First Peoples Fund, Artspace, and Colorado State University, which found that art is among the most promising ways to expand the market economy in Native communities.

Rendering of the entrance to the Oglala Lakota Artspace

The study revealed that more than half of Native households on Pine Ridge are engaged in home-based businesses, and 79 percent of those businesses are in the arts. It also found that 61 percent of emerging artists have incomes of less than $10,000, but through participation in workshops and trainings, that number drops to 7.5 percent. The study identified that what reservation-based artists need to be successful includes access—to markets, supplies, space, credit, and networks—as well as increased business knowledge.

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